International Journal of Food Nutrition and Safety

International Journal of Food Nutrition and Safety, 2013, 4(3): 98-107
International Journal of Food Nutrition and Safety
ISSN: 2165-896X
Florida, USA
Journal homepage:
Development of Low Fat Meat Products
Heena Jalal *, Salahuddin Mir, Sarfaraz A. Wani, Asif Hassan Sofi, M. Ashraf Pal, Feroz Rather
Division of Livestock Products Technology, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry,
Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir, India
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: [email protected]; Tel.:
Article history: Received 3 November 2013, Received in revised form 4 December 2013, Accepted 8
December 2013, Published 12 December 2013.
Abstract: Reducing the total fat content of processed meats is not only desirable but
feasible. Combinations of different fat substitutes can reduce significantly the caloric
content and the level of saturated fats. This could result in a new category of products
which have an acceptable taste and a high degree of nutritional merit and offer the
consumer an alternative to traditional processed products. These products must, however,
deliver improved eating quality and contain reduced fat content at no or minimal extra cost.
With these changes in mind, this article presents a review of novel ingredient systems and
processing approaches that are emerging to create high quality, affordable low fat meat
Keywords: fat; obesity; low fat; meat products; fat replacers.
1. Introduction
The proposed relationships between high cholesterol level and low polyunsaturated/saturated
fatty acids (PUFA/SFA) ratio and the rise in coronary heart diseases have resulted in focusing on low
fat food products including some meat products (Giese, 1992). Researchers have been working on
strategies to reduce animal fat usage in meat products. Thus, there is an expanding new category of
products that acquire added nutritional value as a result of a significant reduction in their fat and
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Int. J. Food Nutr. Saf. 2013, 4(3): 98-107
calorie content, and in their saturated fat and cholesterol levels. In recent years, there has been strong
sales growth in fat-free food products, including various meat items. By definition, fat-free products
must contain less than 0.5 g fat per serving based on lipid fatty acids expressed as triglycerides (USDA,
1995). To succeed in producing low-fat, healthy and palatable food products, other ingredients must be
chosen to replace fat. These ingredients must replace the flavor and mouth-feel that would normally be
derived from fat. Meat products with low fat must be perceived by consumers as healthy, a good
economic value, and have desired palatability (Mandigo and Eilert, 1993). Reducing fat in processed
meat products can be accomplished by using leaner meats and by the dilution of the fat, adding water
and other non-meat ingredients (Mandigo, 1991). A major concern with adding water to meat products
is increased cooking losses and purge (Gregg et al., 1993). In developing low-fat products, it is
important to find the proper combinations of added water and reduced fat to benefit specific properties,
without altering other characteristics (Claus et al., 1989).
2. Low-fat Formulations
Presently, consumers are very concerned about their diet and the food they eat. With the
demand for nutritious and healthy food products, processed meat producers have to focus their
attention toward processed meats that are lean, low fat and high in protein content. Health concerns
about fat utilization and changes in consumer’s preferences have led to comprehensive research on
low-fat foods (Yang et al., 2007). The demand for low-fat meat products has greatly increased in
recent years as high fat intake, especially saturated fats, is associated with increased risk of chronic
diseases of the circulatory system and some other types of cancers (AHA, 1996). Modern consumers
tend to have great concern for their health and avoid foods that are high in fat, including processed
meat products that may contain up to 30% fat. Previously, low-fat meat products were manufactured
only for the purpose of diet foods for losing weight, but that focus has now been extended to healthconscious consumers (Yoo et al., 2007). Limitation in fat intake is thought to play a preventive role
against various chronic disorders, such as obesity, coronary heart diseases and some types of cancers
(Reddy, 1995). Nutritional guidelines suggest that dietary fat should provide between 15 and 30% of
total calories, and saturated fats should be limited between 0 and 10% of calorie intake (WHO, 1990).
Developing low-fat meat product which confirms to the dietary recommendation is difficult task
(Giese, 1992). The development of low-fat products requires modifications to the products which can
affect important quality attributes and therefore, consumer acceptability of such products (Jimenez et
al., 1995). The development of low-fat product means that factors associated with meat raw materials,
non-meat ingredients and manufacture and preparation procedures together with other factors such as
the characteristics of the new derivative must be taken into account (Jimenez, 1996). The palatability
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Int. J. Food Nutr. Saf. 2013, 4(3): 98-107
and acceptability of meat products are directly related to the fat content (Pearson and Gillet, 1997).
The production of low-fat products through simple fat reduction would substantially reduce product
palatability, juiciness, tenderness and flavor intensity (Kregel et al., 1986). Fat reduction in meat
products without additives may decrease palatability (Trout et al., 1992a). Ground beef is less
palatable and satisfying when fat decreases (Berry and Leddy, 1984), especially when fat is reduced to
5 to 10% (Trout et al., 1992b). Huffman and Egbert (1990) observed that the overall acceptability of
ground beef products peaked at a fat content of 20% level. Fat reduction can significantly affect the
acceptability of the product (Giese, 1992) and increases the toughness of meat products (Barbut and
Mittal, 1996). Young et al. (1991) observed that raw patties made from ground chicken thigh meat
become lighter and more yellow in colour as fat content increased. The low-fat patties were harder,
springier, less cohesive and chewier than high fat patties. However, Berry (1998) observed that fat
content did not exert any major influence on colour of ground beef patties.
The manufacture of low fat products generally follows two basic approaches: the use of leaner
raw materials and/or the reduction of fat and calorie contents by adding water and other ingredients
that contribute few or no calories. These approaches can be supplemented by the use of a number of
technological procedures that help to offset undesirable side effects produced as a result of changes to
the product’s composition and nature. The aim is to reduce fat levels and/or modify fat characteristics
and yet produce a product with acceptable levels of functionality, safety, sensory properties and
stability (Yun et al., 2009). There are a number of procedures for the development of such products,
which may be followed on their own or in combination, and are based on the following approaches.
2.1. Selection of Meat Ingredients to Secure A Raw Material That Is Suitable Both in Terms of
Composition and Functionality
The composition of raw material can be adjusted by conditioning of the carcass composition
using breeding and/or feeding strategies and by reducing fat levels in meat using a number of physical
and/or chemical techniques. The level of carcass fat has been considerably reduced over the past 20
years. Meat producers and animal scientists have responded to this consumer demand by breeding
animals with lower fat deposition and with leaner cuts of meat. Meat processors and researchers have
also investigated, developed, and merchandised a range of low-fat meat products (Hsu and Chung
2000). Further, research has been also directed towards inducing changes in lipid components by
modifying the feeding regimes of monogastric animals, so as to reduce the levels of saturated fatty
acids and increase the levels of oleic acid present in the muscle and adipose tissue. The procedures to
reduce fat levels in meat range from fat trimming to physicochemical techniques like dry
concentration, centrifugation, and supercritical fluid extraction technology. Supercritical fluid
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Int. J. Food Nutr. Saf. 2013, 4(3): 98-107
extraction is a process in which a gas exceeds its critical point under elevated pressure and temperature
and, consequently, exhibits unique solvating properties leading to dissolving the fat contained in the
meat. This process has been used to decrease fat and cholesterol content in ground beef and fresh meat
(Clarke, 1991). Mechanical separation is a process during which connective tissue on the fresh meat
trimmings is removed first in a parallel desinewing machine before a continuous heat exchanger is
used to temper the meat trimmings. After the tempering, a proprietary separation process separates the
lean from the fat (Anonymous, 1992). Cold rendering is another process in which a leaner product can
be produced from fatter trimmings through cold-rendering with much of the original functionality
remaining (Mandigo, 1992). Microwave cooking pads absorb fat lost in the cooking process, minimize
its contact with food and, therefore, allow more fat to cook out (Costello et al., 1990).
2.2. Use of Non-meat Ingredients That Can Help Lend Desirable Textured Characteristics,
Particularly Ingredients That Enhance Water Holding Capacity
The increase in consumer interest in reduced fat foods has created a growing need for low fat
meat products in the market. Developing a lean or extra lean ground product, while assuring the
necessary palatability demanded by consumers, is not as simple as just removing fat (Trout et al.,
1992a). The active approach to fat replacement is to add fat replacers, which either replace fat or
modify the interactions of the remaining components (Miller et al., 1993). Fat replacers in meats are
ingredients that contribute a minimum of calories to formulated meats and do not dramatically alter
organoleptic and processing properties. Fat replacers or substitutes are ingredients that contribute a
minimum of calories to formulated meats and alter flavor, tenderness, mouth feel, viscosity and other
sensory and processing properties (Cengiz and Gokoglu, 2007).
The direct replacement of fat with ingredients is an attractive alternative to fat reduction due to
the functional and nutritional properties that the ingredients may impart. Many substitutes are used for
partial replacement of the fat and may include added water (Sylvia et al., 1994), protein-based
substitutes (Riisom, 1991), carbohydrate substitutes (Giese, 1992), vegetable and plant oils (Paneras
and Bloukas, 1994), synthetic compounds (Keeton, 1994) and oat fibre/products (Yang et al., 2007).
Fat replacers can be added to meat formulations to improve water and fat binding properties as well as
to improve cooking yields, slicing characteristics and flavor (Schmidt, 1986 & 1988).
Among non-meat additives used as fat replacers are wheat flour in chicken nuggets (Rao et al.,
1997), soy-flour in buffalo meat burgers (Modi et al., 2003), common bean flour in beef sausages
(Dzudie et al., 2002), liquid egg and soy protein in goat beef patties (Gujral et al., 2002), amaranthus
and buck wheat proteins in emulsion type products (Bejesano and Corke, 1998), whey protein
concentrate in sausages (Laroia et al., 1995), gram flour in low fat duck meat patties (Reddy and Rao,
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Int. J. Food Nutr. Saf. 2013, 4(3): 98-107
1997). In cooked meat products, a number of proteins (soy, maize, whey proteins, egg white, wheat
and cotton), carbohydrates (starch, pectin, cellulose, gums, maltodextrins) and fat-based substitutes
have been studied (Akoh, 1998). The results obtained were satisfactory, mainly with carbohydrates
which improve cooking yield, enhance water holding capacity, reduce formulation cost and modify
texture (Akoh, 1998; Jimenez, 1996). Rapaille (1991) observed that use of maltodextrins as partial fat
replacer not only provide functional and sensory properties of fat but also produce low cost product.
Berry and Wergin (1993) reported that incorporation of pregelatinised potato starch in low-fat beef
patty formulations improved tenderness and cooking yield but reduced fat retention during cooking.
Tapioca starch also was efficiently utilized as a fat substitute (Hughes et al., 1998). Miller et al. (1993)
reported that low-fat ground beef patties with added water, with or without phosphates, were similar to
22% fat patties in sensory attributes, although added water increased thaw and cooking losses.
Gums are hydrocolloids, dissolve in water and produce gels which resemble fat in mouth feel,
texture and sensory attributes. Guar gum, Xanthus gum and Locust bean gum are the common gums
used in fat substitution (Pearson and Gillet, 1997). Ahmed et al. (1990) reported that added water
could also be utilized as a fat substitute. Lin and Mei (2000) reported that incorporation of alginate,
carrageenan, and soy isolate into reduced fat (about 15%) meat batter improved the emulsion stability
and water holding capacity due to the protective effect of gums and soy protein on meat proteins. Lin
and Keeton (1998) studied the textural and physico-chemical properties of low-fat, precooked ground
beef patties containing carrageenan and sodium alginate. Results suggested that low-fat (5-10%)
ground beef patties containing a combination of alginate and carrageenan were similar to regular beef
patties (20% fat) regarding yields and textural properties. Desmond and Troy (1998) compared 17
commercially available non-meat adjuncts at 0.5 to 5.0% use levels and observed the highest flavor
and overall quality scores for low fat beef burgers containing pectin, cellulose, oat fibre and
Protein-based fat substitutes have technological limitations (resistance to heat treatments,
comparability with other constituents as flavor components which restrict their use (Lucca and Tepper,
1994). A variety of milk proteins including non-fat dried milk, sodium caseinate, milk co-precipitates
and skimmed milk protein could be utilized as fat substitutes and texture modifying agents (Rao et al.,
1998). Kumar and Sharma (2003) showed that incorporation of skimmed milk co-precipitate (as fat
replacer) into low-fat (<10%) ground pork patties improved cooking yield, fat and moisture retention
and reduced shrinkage and sensory properties were comparable with control (15%) patties.
2.3. Adoption of Appropriate Manufacturing and/or Preparation Technologies either to Induce Certain
Functional Characteristics or to Vary the Composition of the Final Product
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Int. J. Food Nutr. Saf. 2013, 4(3): 98-107
This includes use of technological treatments such as pre-blending, physical manipulation or
high pressure during processing and/or preparation to modify properties that determine the stability
and texture of meat products. Pre-emulsification of part of the fat with a non-meat protein (before
addition to the meat batter) improves the system’s fat binding ability. This leaves more meat protein
available to act in gel formation and enhance water holding ability (Bishop et al., 1993). Processing
steps like grinding, freezing, cooking and packing are of particular interest in view of their influences
on the yield, texture, colour and microbiological characteristics of low fat products (Jimenez, 2000).
3. Difficulties in Formulating Low Fat Meat Products
Translating idea into reality is not so simple a task. Negative sensory qualities have haunted
low fat meat products. Research indicates that people prefer meat products with 15-20% fat. Low fat
products, with fat contents starting below 15% tend to have less flavor intensity, juiciness and
tenderness. It has been a challenge to formulate a low fat meat product in which the texture, flavor and
appearance are not compromised. In addition to contributing valuable sensory qualities, fat functions to
provide nutrients, namely the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K). Another hindrance in the production
of quality low fat meat products has been the expense. Reduced fat meats often cost more to produce
than their whole fat counterparts. Finding inexpensive ingredients is the primary obstacle. Some fat
replacers are relatively costly.
4. Conclusions
Although the demand is present for low fat meat products, formulating a low fat meat product
equal in quality to its full fat counterpart is a difficult task. Choice of ingredients is critical to
developing juicy, flavorful, low fat product that is inexpensive to produce. Water stretches the
functionality of fat and increases yield. The key ingredient in a low fat meat formulation is the fat
replacer or combination of fat replacers chosen. They can be either protein-based, fat-based, or
carbohydrate based. Good fat replacers have a particle size and water binding capacity that mimics the
mouth-feel and juiciness of real fat. They should be intrinsically bland, but have the ability to bind
flavor chemicals and deliver flavor intensely to the consumer. Many formulations should be
adequately tested by sensory panels. The final product should be equal to the full fat product in all
aspects, except for fat. We require a better understanding of the interaction of substitutes with the
ingredients used, processing procedures, storage conditions and final product preparation. When fat is
being reduced in traditional meat products, one has to take into account the technological,
microbiological, economic and sensory limits to this reduction if high quality products are going to be
produced without any great reduction in their acceptability or shelf-life. Carbohydrate-based fat
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Int. J. Food Nutr. Saf. 2013, 4(3): 98-107
replacers or mixtures of gums, starches, and/or proteins appear to offer the most effective means of
replacing a significant portion of fat in meat products while duplicating the textural and sensory
characteristics of animal fat. However, much work remains to determine the most appropriate
combinations of ingredients and acceptable meat flavor systems for producing low fat meat products.
In the end, the consumer declares the product a success or failure.
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